New regulations for medical-marijuana dispensaries got an initial go-ahead by the full Denver City Council on Monday, putting the city one step closer to adopting thorough oversight for what one council member calls Denver's fastest-growing industry.
The proposed regulations require dispensaries to apply for special licenses with the city and limit how close new dispensaries can open to schools, child-care facilities or existing dispensaries, among other rules. The regulations still need final approval by the council at a meeting Monday that also will include a public hearing on the rules.
"Tonight we have an opportunity to seize the moment and move forward with what I really believe is a moderate regulatory scheme for what is still the fastest-growing industry in Denver," Councilman Charlie Brown, who is pushing the regulations, told fellow council members.
Denver officials have now received applications for sales-tax licenses from 390 dispensaries.
The regulations would require new dispensaries to open at least 1,000 feet from schools, child-care centers or other dispensaries. In addition to the spacing restrictions, the regulations would prohibit on-site use or consumption of cannabis at dispensaries and limits hours of operation to between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. They also would bar people convicted of a felony within the past five years from opening a dispensary.
The council unanimously approved the regulations, after changing the cutoff date for exempting existing dispensaries from the spacing requirements to Dec. 15.
Brown said he intended the change to bring peace among council members who wanted the date to be Dec. 1 and those who wanted it to be Jan. 1.
Council member Michael Hancock said he had favored Dec. 1, saying many dispensaries raced to open before the end of the year to avoid complying with the spacing restrictions.